vegetarian yogic meal

Flavorful Vegetarian Yogic Cooking

Yogi Tea Triple Chili Veggie Pilau Blissful Beets

Summer will soon give way to fall, and this change in seasons (and the sometimes accompanying abrupt weather shifts), tends to make us all a little more susceptible to colds and viruses… so… This is a good time to start strengthening your immune system! Here are a few tips on how to do just that:

Exercise regularly (but remember, overdoing it brings your immune system temporarily down a notch). At the least, take a 30-60 minute brisk walk a few times a week. Be sure to swing those arms as you walk! This helps to stimulate your digestion (where really most all disease starts). Be sure you get enough rest, also.

Eat healthy! Cut back on processed foods, caffeine, sugar, fried foods, meat, and all those things that tax your digestion or over-stimulate your nervous system.

Supplement! Be sure you are getting enough vitamin C, if not through your natural foods, through a good supplement.

And, there are some foods and spices that are known in yogic teachings to be excellent for strengthening the immune system, improving digestion, and for working to detox the liver. These include: onions, garlic, gingerroot, beets, radishes, black pepper, chilies, cardamom…

Here are some recipes that call upon the yogic tradition of cooking that are pretty simple to prepare, and full of fantastic flavor as well!

Yogi Bhajan’s

You have probably seen packaged Yogi Tea in its many delicious flavors on the shelf at your natural food store or grocery market. Here is how you can easily make it from scratch! The spices are known in Ayurveda to help improve digestion, purify the blood, improve immune fitness, ward off intestinal parasites, and increase vitality. As the saying goes, “A cup a day keeps disease away…”

I like to make at least a gallon at a time. When it’s done, strain it (you can freeze the spices and save to make another smaller batch another day) and pour into a jar or lidded pitcher. Then when you desire a cup, just add the milk of your choice, bring it to the boiling point, sweeten if desired, and enjoy.

Plain Yogi Tea keeps refrigerated for several weeks.

4 qts water
25 whole cloves
30 peppercorns
6-8 3-4″ cinnamon sticks
25 green cardamom pods
3-4″ gingerroot (scrubbed clean, not peeled) thinly sliced
1 tsp. black tea (or 1 tea bag), optional

Bring water to a fast boil in a stainless steel pot. Add whole cloves and let them dance for about 1 minute. Add peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom and gingerroot. Turn heat down so it is just simmering, cover, and let lightly boil for 45-60 minutes. Remove from heat, add black tea, and let sit for another hour (or overnight). This way it gets nice and strong so you can best enjoy this potent spice blend! Then strain and refrigerate.

Add 1 Tbsp. or more of Fennel seeds with the other spices. This will make the tea somewhat diuretic, and gives a nice sweet flavor.

Summer Cooler: Mix plain Yogi Tea with apple juice and serve with ice and a twist of lemon.

Yogi Tea Frappe: Blend plain Yogi Tea with milk of choice, a few ice cubes, sweetener. Top with a dollop of whipped cream if you like. Sprinkle with cinnamon powder. Absolutely divine.

Yogi Tea Latte: (requires espresso/cappuccino maker) Pour ½ cup Yogi Tea into cup and add sweetener and perhaps a few drops of vanilla flavoring. Now add steamed milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon powder.

Yogi Tea Smoothie: Place 1 cup Yogi Tea, ½ cup soymilk, ½ banana, 2-3 ice cubes, and 1 tsp. honey in blender. Process until smooth.

Yogi Tea “Icee”: Make sweetened Yogi Tea ice cubes (with or without milk). Put through ice crusher (or use blender to chop). Fill a tall glass with crushed Yogi Tea ice and add sparkling water or Reed’s Ginger Brew. Serve with a straw.

TRIPLE CHILI VEGGIE PILAU Yield: 4-6 servings (about 7 cups)

This curried rice dish is bursting with vegetables and three varieties of fresh chilies. Basmati rice is widely available these days, at health food stores, Indian markets, and many super markets. It is a natural white rice that is very easy to digest. This dish is known by the yogis to be helpful for the kidneys and digestion. I love it best served with Blissful Beets and a scoop of cottage cheese or yogurt.

If your palate isn’t quite up for all the chilies, you can reduce the heat by deveining and deseeding the chilies (wear gloves or oil your hands first to protect your skin from the potent oils; wash your hands afterwards), or by using only Anaheim chilies (which are really quite mild).

¼ cup olive oil or ghee
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup finely chopped fresh gingerroot (peeled)
1½ tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. caraway seeds
¼ tsp. celery seeds
2 tsp. poppy seeds
2 Anaheim chilies, chopped
1 yellow chili, chopped
2 serrano chilies, chopped
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed clean and well drained
2 cups water
4 cups chopped assorted vegetables (broccoli, carrots, zucchini, green beans, asparagus, red radishes, cauliflower, fresh peas… are all good)
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat oil or ghee in bottom of 2-quart or larger-sized saucepot over medium-high flame. Sauté onions and ginger until quite soft and lightly browned. Add spices and continue to cook stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Add chopped chilies and sauté a little longer, adding a touch more oil if needed to prevent sticking. Now add rice and cook just a couple minutes more, until the rice is slightly toasted. Add vegetables, water and salt and bring to a boil. Immediately cover and turn the flame to low. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit another 8 minutes. Remove lid, fluff lightly, and serve.

BLISSFUL BEETS Serves 4-6 (about 4 cups)

You get bliss twice with this dish, on the way in and on the way out! Beets are great for liver detox, and also provide fantastic fiber for improved digestion. If you make beets your main food for one meal you will easily be able to gauge how well your elimination is getting along, because your stools will be purplish and your urine pink! In a perfect world, it should pass through your system within 18-24 hours. If not, take a look at the food you eat, and cut out that stuff that tastes so good going down, and jams you up inside (pizza, ice cream, fried foods, meats, etc.).

This recipe just calls for the beetroot, but you can also add the chopped greens (lightly steamed) or other greens (such as chard).

2½ lbs. Beets
2 Tbsp. olive oil or ghee
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh gingerroot
5-6 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. dill seeds
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp salt (or to taste)

Bring 2″ water to boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Scrub beets (do not peel or cut off stems or roots) and place whole in the boiling water. (If the beets are quite large, cut them in half.) Cover and cook at low boil for about 30 minutes, until tender. The skins will look slightly blistered. Be careful not to overcook! When done, immediately plunge into cold water. The skins should then easily come off. Cut off remaining stems and fibrous root tips.

While the beets are cooking, heat oil or ghee in iron skillet or sauté pan and sauté onions, garlic and ginger until quite soft and beginning to brown. Add spices and continue to cook, adding a little water as necessary to avoid scorching, until nicely done and saucy.

Now, take your beets and either chop them into a ½” dice, or shred them with hand-grater or food processor.

Combine beets with onion-garlic-ginger mixture. Add salt, tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos to taste and serve.

For a tasty main dish, place the Blissful Beets in a 2-quart casserole. Cover with a scattering of thinly sliced onion, chopped bell pepper, and/or tomato. Top with goat cheese or feta and bake just until cheese is melted and golden. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.

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Written by Siri-Ved Kaur Khalsa

Explore Wellness in 2021